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Metabolism. 2000 Oct;49(10):1295-300.

Change of cytokine balance in diet-induced obese mice.

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Department of Food and Nutrition, Japan Women's University, Tokyo.


Although decreased T-cell function has been observed in obese human subjects and genetically obese animals, the precise role of immune functions in obesity is still unclear. To investigate immune functions in obesity, we examined the proliferative responses of splenic lymphocytes and their capacity to produce cytokines in the presence or absence of leptin, the protein produced by the obese gene, in diet-induced obese and control mice. For induction of obesity, C57BL/6J mice were fed a high-fat diet for 13 weeks. In mice fed the high-fat diet, body weight, fat pad weight, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha production by adipocytes were significantly increased relative to mice fed the normal diet. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated proliferation of cultured splenocytes from diet-induced obese mice was also increased. However, production of interleukin (IL)-2 by splenic lymphocytes from obese mice was suppressed, whereas interferon (IFN)-gamma and IL-4 production was increased. Exogenous lepitn regulated the cytokine production by cultured splenocytes from control and obese mice, respectively (upregulation of IFN-gamma and downregulation of IL-2 in control mice, and downregulation of IL-4 in obese mice). These results suggest that changes in cytokine production by splenic lymphocytes in obesity are indicative of altered immune functions that might contribute to related complications, although the effect of difference in nutrient intake (macro and micro) may also have contributed to the changes.

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